Marcus locked the bathroom door—or tried to. It was an old and wobbly lock that failed to properly catch, which was really, really not helping since he definitely didn’t want to be walked in on doing what he planned to (maybe) do. Everyone had to stay out: parents, siblings, the family dog—especially the family dog, loved by Marcus beyond all measure. Thinking about leaving the family dog behind, Marcus came very, very close to tearing up. While holding his breath (against crying), he noticed that his right foot rested on a black tile, his left on a white. The white tile appeared more scuffed, less clean, but then it would. If most or even some of his blood fell on the white tiles, what he was thinking about doing would leave a stain, which was inconsiderate. It would cost his parents money, a bathroom remodel. So maybe just swallow a bunch of whatever was in the medicine cabinet? That way, besides his body, there’d only be something like a dribble of vomit to clean up? His mother’s robe, hooked to the door, had a sash. TV prisoners in TV prisons hung themselves by twisted sheets all the time. But what if, once strung up, he started, despite himself, kicking and twirling, his butt banging so loudly against the door that someone might decide to investigate the banging before it permanently stopped? Something else: before starting, he’d have to reach across the tub and somehow tug the jammed window closed. If he didn’t, someone out there might be able hear him as well as he could hear the old guy next door whistling. What did old, old, old people have to whistle about anyway? He’d never whistle, old. He’d feel a thousand times, a million times, more fed up than he felt this very second. The door bumped open. Marcus sank to the floor next to the tub, his right butt cheek on a white tile, his left on a black. The dog squatted next to him, tail thumping. Ralphie had brought a ball.
Postscript: Marcus, who died of natural causes, aged 92, retained a certain wariness of bathrooms throughout his elongated existence, persistent in the belief that he’d almost died in one.